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Hooksett holds ceremony for upgraded Veterans’ Park

HOOKSETT — Residents, veterans, and town officials came together Sunday afternoon for the dedication of the restored and enhanced Veterans’ Park.

Despite the fact that rain pushed the event inside to the local American Legion and that the band and chorus had to cancel, the 100 or so attending said the dedication remained a special moment.

“I am very happy with how everything turned out, the Heritage Commission has done a great job,” Town Council Chair James Sullivan said. “It allows us in a small way to thank the veterans who served, it’s something we should do as a town, thank those who have guaranteed our freedom.”

Town Administrator Dean Shankle agreed.

“It’s really exciting, too bad we couldn’t have (the dedication) at the actual site, but I would still encourage people to come look at it, it’s a great thing and helps with community building. It brings people together,” Shankle said.

Irene Bergeron of Hooksett has a son, Steve Coudure, who is currently serving in Afghanistan, and said because of that she feels compelled to attend events like the dedication.

“I think it is a great thing that (the Heritage Commission) has done, they have been working hard on it for a long time. I think it is important to have things like (Veterans’ Park) for current and future generations,” Bergeron said.

James Lukemam of Manchester served in the Air Force and said he has been to events throughout the state, and in his experience small town events like the dedication in Hooksett tend to be better attended than events in the larger cities.

“In my experience small towns like this do a better jobs of supporting events like this than the bigger cities do. I think this is terrific, all events like this are great,” Lukemam said.

John Danforth of Hooksett served in the Army and said that parks like the one in Hooksett pay respect to men and women who have earned it.

“It’s good towns have parks like this, it gives respect to those who deserve it,” Danforth said.

The park has been undergoing work for the last two years at a cost of $20,000 under the supervision of the Heritage Commission. Along with cleaning up the monuments and landscaping that was already there, the commission added a new pillar to honor all those that have served in war and peace. The work was paid for through a combination of private and public money Heritage Commission Chair Kathie Northrup previously said.

“A couple of years ago we put up the historic marker for the old Odd Fellows hall, and we started looking at (Veterans’ Park) and it looked like it needed attention. So we restored and updated the monuments and redid the signs,” Northrup previously said.

During the dedication, Northrup said she hoped everyone would like what was done to the park, which has been open since the 1950s, and encouraged everyone to stop by and see what it looks like now when the dedication was over, despite the weather.

Pembroke’s Frank Silva, Commander of American Legion Post 37, said once it became apparent the dedication, which was originally planned for the park, would occur in bad weather, Post 37 stepped up and invited everyone to have the event inside.

“We would have loved to have it outside though,” Silva said, who added the park means a lot to local veterans.

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